Patients with acute spinal cord injury benefit from normocapnic hyperpnoea training.

Van Houtte S, Vanlandewijck Y, Kiekens C, Spengler CM, Gosselink R.

The authors report that functional loss of respiratory muscles in persons with spinal cord injury leads to impaired pulmonary function and respiratory complications. Respiratory complications are responsible for a large percentage of the morbidity in this population. They investigated the effects of normocapnic hyperpnoea training in acute spinal cord injury. Fourteen patients were randomized between control (sham) and an experimental normocapnic hyperpnoea training group. Vital capacity, maximal voluntary ventilation, respiratory muscle strength and endurance, respiratory complications and symptoms were evaluated before, after 4 and 8 weeks of training and after 8 weeks follow-up. They found that maximal voluntary ventilation, respiratory muscle strength and endurance improved significantly in the experimental group compared with the control group (p < 0.05). The Index of Pulmonary Dysfunction decreased after 4 weeks of training and respiratory complications were reported less frequently in the experimental group compared with the control group.

Clinical relevance: The addition of normocapnic hyperpnoea training in patients with spinal cord injury improves respiratory muscle strength and endurance and seem to reduce the frequency of respiratory complications.

Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 2008; 40 (2): 119-125

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